Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Possible Terrorist Attack in Toronto

On Monday April 23rd, 25 year old Toronto native Alek Minassian plowed through a crowd of civilians, killing 10 and injuring 15. While it is easy to jump to the conclusion that the attack was an act of terrorism, nothing has been confirmed. Whether the attack was an act of terrorism or not, it is still extremely terrifying that someone could,without hesitation, ram through so many innocent civilians. One witness stated that "shoes and hats flown everywhere" as bodies were being thrown in the air. What makes this attack so horrific, is that there isn't an apparent solution or fix to the issue. It seems that in terrorist attacks, we can blame terrorists and feel safe in our racist generalizations. In mass attacks where guns are used, we quickly blame the gun and trick ourselves into believing that the problem has been solved. Unfortunately for this attack, we aren't able to blame it on terrorism or guns. We are unfortunately faced with the harsh reality that maybe these massive attacks stem from societal issues. Although this attack happened in Toronto, it is more than just Canada's problem. We as human beings should strive to live in a world where people don't just run over other people with cars.  What can be done, if anything, to prevent massive attacks like the one in Toronto? If nothing at all can be done, what steps can we take as a society to try to prevent an individual from attempting such a horrid attack?
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Monday, April 23, 2018

Man Sought in Waffle House Shooting Had Been Arrested Near White House

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This Sunday, there was a gun assault at a Waffle House location in Nashville, Tennessee. Four people were murdered. The assailant, Travis J. Reinking, was arrested nine months prior to the attack for breaching a White House security barrier, and had a reputation for "exhibiting delusional behavior, including his belief that the entertainer Taylor Swift was stalking him and hacking his phone and Netflix account." Although his rifles were confiscated and given to his father after the White House incident, Travis' father simply returned them, including an AR-15 later used in the attack, the same military-grade weapon of choice used in earlier attacks such as those at the Stoneman Douglas and Sandy Hook schools. The assailants troubling record mirrors that of the Stoneman Douglas attacker, and I believe it exposes the ineffectiveness of current regulations to retain weapons from those unfit to own them, signifying the need for stronger restrictions against felons and the mentally unstable in addition to their close relatives that might grant them access to the weapons. What conclusions about the gun control debate can you draw from this latest development? Is government legislation the answer? If so, what are some policies that can help reduce the abnormal occurrence of assault weapons attacks that the United States is experiencing?

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Trump says US has not 'given up anything' in North Korea talks

Critics of the U.S. and North Korea negotiations believe that Pyongyang is getting more out of the talks than Washington. Todd Chuck of NBC claimed that Kim Jong Un "seems to be giving very little but making it seem like he's giving a lot." Trump took to twitter to address the apparent criticisms. President Trump said that North Korea has agreed to denuclearization, when in reality, they haven't done anything close to it. This is evident in Trump's second tweet where he shares "...maybe things will work out, and maybe they won't..." Trump is playing a dangerous game with such a dangerous and fragile country. Affairs with North Korea are probably the most important thing to deal with right now. Relations with North Korea are only a slippery slope if we push them the wrong way. If all goes wrong, we might need to prepare for a nuclear war with North Korea. Other countries like Russia might also get involved because of the attack on Syria before. The nuclear power of those two countries is impossible to protect the United States from. But hey, "maybe things will work out, and maybe they won't." Why do you believe that Trump lied in the first tweet? How do you think this will turn out?  Is this just a problem of Donald Trump and his ethics, or is Kim Jong Un just stubborn and hard to deal with?

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Suspicious factory underscores challenge of verifying North Korea’s nuclear promises


After North Korea's announced suspension of nuclear testing on Friday, many were skeptical about the authenticity of the statement because North Korea has a history of hiding information about their weapons from the United Nations, and does not allow international inspectors to view nuclear facilities. Satellite images of a factory in the city of Chongsu was suspected to be for manufacturing graphite for nuclear reactors, suggesting that North Korea will continue to make weapons secretly, not to mention that they have many more weapons stockpiled. The United States prefers total denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, but suspension is an improvement. This is very similar to the Cold War, in which neither the US nor the USSR knew how many weapons the other side had and continued to grow their arsenal. In this case, no one knows how many weapons North Korea has or can make. While North Korea should allow more transparency for their weapon factories, the US should not expect total denuclearization. The US expecting North Korea to deactivate all of their weapons is too much unless the US is willing to deactivate their weapons as well. However, North Korea should follow the same protocol as other nuclear nations. Since they haven't in the past, it makes sense for the US and other nations to suspect them. Do you think North Korea is actually stopping the development of new nuclear weapons? Is it right for the US to ask North Korea for more transparency or to entirely denuclearize?

Will Kim Jong-un Trade His Nuclear Arsenal to Rebuild Economy?

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Kim Jong-un has been known for his aims of nuclear strength. Recently, Kim Jong-un has claimed that nuclear tests are no longer necessary because "a great victory" has already been accomplished in having nuclear force big enough to deter enemies of North Korea. Now, Kim Jong-un aims to rebuild the nation's economy. Similar to the Soviets during the nuclear arms race when they became an established nuclear power in the Cold War, Kim Jong-un desires to make negotiations in Washington to take down his arsenal for incentives in return. In my opinion, this is relieving news especially because Kim Jong-un is unpredictable. With the dismantle of his nuclear arsenal, people will feel safer knowing that Kim Jong-un will not be able to initiate his nuclear weapons whenever he feels like it. I think that focusing on rebuilding North Korea’s economy is a more beneficial aim for not just North Korea itself, but also the rest of its surrounding nations. How does the thought of Jong-un dismantling his nuclear arsenal make you feel? Do you think America should provide incentives for him to help rebuild North Korea’s economy instead of focus on his arsenal?

Monday, April 16, 2018

Abortion Abolitionist running for Oklahoma Governor

Former pastor and person from state legislature, Dan Fisher, is running to be governor of Oklahoma. He is a conservative and believes that the option to abolish abortion should be decided by the states, and not the supreme court because they do not have the "constitutional authority" to do so. He also believes that there is a difference between pro-life and abolitionists, based on his work in the state legislature. He goes on to comparing it to abolishing slavery in the 1850's. He criticizes how being anti-slavery and pro-life are people who are too lazy to act upon their beliefs and morals whereas abolitionists fight for their cause and what they believe in. Back to him being against abortions, he believes that " the overwhelming majority of abortions are performed for one and only one reason: convenience." I think, after reading the article, that Dan Fisher constantly contradicts himself, and uses evidence that isn't very relevant to the situation. An example would be when he says the supreme court doesn't have the constitutional authority to make abortions legal in all states because the whole purpose of the supreme court is to determine whether or not something is abides by the constitution. The other example would be arguing the abortions and slavery are two completely different things, one being more extreme than the other. I think, if anything, the abortion laws in Oklahoma should be less restricted due to them having one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the whole country, and by having it less regulated, then perhaps teen pregnancy will drop in that state. What do you think of this situation? Should abortion be abolished in some states due to the majority of the population being pro-life, or should abortions be less restricted to lower pregnancy rates amongst the youth and others? Do you think Dan Fisher, if he becomes the governor of Oklahoma, cause the legislature to change their policies on abortion?
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Black teen who wanted directions shot at by white man

Image result for boy shot in oakland ca for knocking on door

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Recently, a 14 year old black male, Brennan Walker, woke up late and missed his bus for school. Without a cell phone, he attempted to get to school by asking for directions so he could walk. However, after knocking on a door, a white female began to yell at Walker questioning him on why he was trying to break into her home. Despite trying to explain to her that he only needed directions, the women's husband came downstairs after hearing the commotion and pulled out a gun. When seeing the gun in hand, Walker began to run before hearing a gunshot. Although Ziegler missed, Walker claims he was just happy he "did not become another statistic." We can clearly see this is another instance of racial profiling. Children, or anyone for that matter, should fear for there lives when doing something as simple as asking for directions. The woman was wrong for assuming he was trying to break in despite knocking. Should the woman also face charges for false accusations along with her husband? How else do we see racial profiling today and in our communities?

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Starbucks C.E.O. Apologizes After Arrests of 2 Black Men

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This past week 2 black men were arrested from a Starbucks in Philadelphia after an employee called 911. The employee allegedly called 911 because they had not purchased anything and they had refused to leave the store, which prompted her to call 911. Many were outraged on social media and Starbucks later issued a statement to social media, stating that they "firmly stand against discrimination or racial profiling", yet the hash tag #boycottstarbucks still continued to trend on twitter.  After, something that is viewed as unjust happens, many are prompted to advocate for change. In the case of Rosa Parks, people began to boycott the buses in Montgomery as a form of protest in order to bring change. Do you think calling 911 was a reasonable reaction? Do you believe that protests have the power to incite change? After a company apologizes for something, do you think it is still necessary to encourage a boycott? In our society today, do you think that social media is an important tool which can be used to inspire change?

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Mark Zuckerberg Testimony: Senators Question Facebook’s Commitment to Privacy

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Mark Zuckerberg, Founder and CEO of Facebook, was questioned in front of senators on Tuesday in regards to the harvesting of data of 87 million Facebook users by Cambridge Analytica during the 2016 election. Unfortunately, Facebook did not inform users of this abuse of data from 2015 until just recently. Mark Zuckerberg has taken responsibility for not being able to protect Facebook users' information and has vowed to do better. I believe that Facebook has such a great responsibility in keeping all of its users' personal data safe from abuse and manipulation from third-party app developers since there are at least 2 billion monthly users. Cambridge Analytica's objective to use personal data "to psychologically profile voters during the 2016 election" and being linked with the Trump Campaign is similar to the events of the Watergate scandal in which 5 burglars were arrested for stealing documents and information at the Democratic Party Headquarters. I think these two events are similar because one party is trying to find out information of the other party before an election. Do you think social media companies should prioritize privacy of their users? Do you believe Zuckerberg and Facebook are going to take better action to prevent abuse of data?

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Trump to Decide Soon Whether to Retaliate for ‘Barbaric Act’ in Syria

Over the weekend, chemical weapons were used in a deadly attack that killed dozens in Damascus, the capital of Syria. Trump is putting his foot down, claiming that any country involved in these attacks, whether it be Russia, Syria, or Iran (all countries currently with military powers stationed in Syria), will “pay a price” for the continuing to enable or support these heinous actions. It appears as though he is going to call for an airstrike against Syria to take place as early as Tuesday. However, this places Trump in a strained position, as the Russian military is currently placed in Syria is backing the current President that is in office, however; any action taken to strike them down would lead to some sort of falling out in the relationship Trump is vying to establish between he and Putin. There is as well concern whether or not an airstrike would be effective or not, in terms of preventing some attack like this from occurring again. His language regarding the situation seems very blunt and forceful, mostly centering on the fact that any of those involved with the attack will be punished by some sort of forceful degree. My hope is that Trump handles this situation in a very diplomatic fashion, and look at all of the cards that are laid out on the table, rather than rushing in and making a hasty, and possibly, costly decision. This idea of military involvement plays into the role of America in foreign relations, specifically in wartime instances, much like the Vietnam War. During this time, it was argued that there was no direct necessity to intervene, however; the government was decided to act anyway, in order to bring down a power that they saw as a direct threat: the Communists. The Syrian regime acts as the Communist supporters and backers in this specific instance. Is it wise for Trump to call for any military actions to be taken? If so, why? If not, what alternative actions/decisions can/should be taken?

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Monday, April 9, 2018

50 years since his death, Martin Luther King Jr.’s philosophical work is all but forgotten

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Last week, on the fiftieth anniversary of his assassination, the world commemorated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Many of King's admirers, however, are ignorant of the entirety of Dr. King's mission, having heard only snippets of his "I Have a Dream" speech and perhaps the final words of his "Mountaintop" speech. These select few representations of King's legacy are no doubt powerful, but fail to convey critical aspects of Dr. King. Not very many people understand the extent to which King criticized the government and pushed for the government to significantly help the poor. Nor do they know that he was vehemently opposed to the Vietnam War. Dr. King has been sugarcoated, his radical beliefs silenced in favor of his feel-good lines. This holds true in the broader context of other martyrs and heroes as well. Too often, people are idealized to the extent that controversial or disagreeable aspects of them are suppressed and their humanity is lost.

In order to fully appreciate Dr. King, we need to understand everything he stood for. We need to embrace his flaws. We can't hide behind a couple of his words, broadcasting those to the world in order to make it look like we've fulfilled his dream.

What is the danger of oversimplifying people that we admire? What can be done to prevent this?

This new lynching memorial rewrites American history

06 Equal Justice Initiative memorial RESTRICTED

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Montgomery Alabama, which was once known as the most racist city in America, has opened a new memorial honoring men, women, and children who were enslaved and lynched through out America's history. It captures the brutality and the scale of lynching through out the South. One of the researchers who was a part of creating this monument states, "We want people to see the pain. We want them to see the suffering. We want them to see the anguish. But we also want them to see the humanity, and the strength, and the dignity and the capacity to endure." Not only were the names of 4,400 victims of racial terror lynchings engraved throughout 800 six-foot-tall monuments, but there are also graphic and detailed sculptures of enslaved black people with chains around their necks. I think it is very important to show these parts of America's history that we tend to shed our eyes from. Also, to spread the stories of African Americans who haven't had a voice for hundreds of years. Why Confederate generals have streets, schools, and counties named after them is utterly disgusting when it is impossible to name one lynching victim? Do you guys think that that it is important to show these parts of America's history?  And should there be more monuments like this around the nation?